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Vitamins, Minerals and Dietary Supplements

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Chloride

What is chloride?

Chloride is a compound consisting of two elements, one of which is always chlorine. Chloride makes up about 0.15% of a person's body weight and is found in extracellular fluid, sweat and urine.

Why do we need it?

Chloride is essential for maintaining acid-base, electrolyte and fluid balance in the body. It also plays an important role in digestion, because it is a key component of hydrochloric acid found in the stomach.

How much chloride should I take?

According to the National Academy of Sciences, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for chloride is as follows:

  • Adult men: 750 milligrams/day
  • Adult women: 750 milligrams/day
  • Children aged 7-10: 600 milligrams/day
  • Infants: between 180-300 milligrams/day
  • Pregnant/lactating women: 750 milligrams/day

What are some good sources of chloride?

Table salt is the most common source of chloride; a quarter teaspoon of salt contains the recommended daily allowance of chloride. Other good sources include sea salt, seaweed, soy sauce, olives and rye. Many processed foods also contain large amounts of chloride.

What can happen if I don't get enough chloride?

Chloride deficiency can be caused by fluid loss as a result of excessive sweating, vomiting or diarrhea. Excessive loss of chloride can result in alkalosis (abnormally high mineral content in the bodily fluids), dehydration, and a loss of potassium in the urine.

What can happen if I take too much?

Excessive levels of chloride (in the form of table salt) can increase the risk of hypertension in certain individuals. Increased chloride intake can also cause fluid retention, but this is primarily caused by the sodium contained in salt.

References

  • Recommended Dietary Allowances, 10th ed. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1989.
  • Powers F. The role of chloride in acid-base balance. J Intraven Nurs Sep-Oct 1999;22(5):286-91.
  • Mydlik M, et al. Influence of water and sodium diuresis and furosemide on urinary excretion of vitamin B6, oxalic acid and vitamin C in chronic renal failure. Miner Electrolyte Metab Jul-Dec 1999;25(4-6):352-6.
  • Sorota S. Insights into the structure, distribution and function of the cardiac chloride channels. Cardiovasc Res May 1999;42(2):361-76.
  • Inglefield JR, Schwartz-Bloom RD. Fluorescence imaging of changes in intracellular chloride in living brain slices. Methods June 1999;18(2):197-203.
  • Hansen PB, Jensen BL, Skott O. Chloride regulates afferent arteriolar contraction in response to depolarization. Hypertension Dec 1998;32(6):1066-70.

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